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That’s the first lesson–plant now. Thanksgiving week has always been my target for spring bulb planting. And the weather right now is perfect for working outside. If you wait much longer, you run a big risk of getting too busy and forgetting.
Bulbs almost always come with instructions. Skim them to determine planting depth. Then save the labels or write down the bulb names so you can remember then next spring. That’s lesson 2–you don’t think you’ll forget, but you do.
# 3–Plant in clusters, not lines or rows. It must be my farmer genes that make me want to dig long, narrow holes. When planting bulbs, I make myself dig almost square holes, or zigzags that are 2 or 3 feet across. 10-12 bulbs go in each. Then remember to cluster your clusters. No one wants little dots of color all over the garden. Bulbs are small, so plant en mass for big displays.
#4–Early bloomers go in the back, later bloomer in the front of your view. Otherwise you’ll look though the yellowing foliage of February Gold, to view the delicate Hawera that bloom in April. And remember, daffodils always turn to the sun which is in the South in winter. On one side of my woods path, the flowers show me their backsides. I should have planted them on the other side for a better display.
#5–Use good fertilizer in your (generous-sized) holes. I like organic Bulb Tone, but there are other good products made just for bulbs. Skip the bone meal. It was good in your grandma’s day, (she probably ground her own bones) but has few nutrients now due to the way they process these things.
Final Lesson. In spring, take pictures of your new bulbs and your blank spaces. Then you’ll have a plan when you plant more bulbs next fall. And keep perennial bulbs out of beds that you dig and redig often. At almost $1 a piece, no one likes accidentally splitting daffodil bulbs with shovels.
All that said, daffodils and other spring bulbs are one of the great joys of my garden. Don’t miss them. Plant a bunch this week. (Which reminds me, I think I need to buy some more.)
If I could grow only one small tree, it would be the Autumn Flowering Cherry–Prunus subhirtella ”Autumnalis”. In bloom right now, it has a big flush of white to light pink flowers in the spring, another round of blossoms in the fall and often puts out a few blooms to lift my spirits right after Christmas. (These are the best of all)
My tree is about 20 years old, and about 12 feet tall. It’s planted in the edge of the woods–I’m sure it would enjoy more sun–still the shape is nice. This is a great flowering tree!
Only two questions come to mind about Prunus Autumnalis–why you don’t see this wonderful plant more often, and why I only have one.
Which brings me to another fall favorite–Camellia sasanqua (Wm Lanier Hunt). I’ve raved about this favorite shrub before, so I’ll let my photos do the talking this time.
If I could grow only one shrub, Wm Hunt would be it.
Favorite fall border plant? Salvia Van Houttei–the original garnet red one. This is a wonderful color and a big, bold plant for the season. It’s tender in our climate (zone 7b) so I dig it up and carry it over indoors. Worth the trouble? You bet. Wouldn’t be without it.
Remember the old (and true) saying–All gardens are beautiful in the spring.
Plan for a garden that shines in other seasons–like fall–a great time to garden in NC.
So you are probably thinking..is she crazy? Writing about a plant that flourishes right after a fabulous shower, although there is no rain in sight? No, I am not crazy. Because even though we haven’t had rain in a short while, these rain lilies (zephyranthes candida) are tops. Mine came out in full force when it rained last and are still blooming strong–more than 2 weeks now.
I have white ones now, but picked up a dozen pink ones at Camellia Forest the other day.
This plant is pure magic in spring, summer or fall. After a rain they make green thickets with clusters of white (or pink) flowers.
- They are bulbs, so now is the time to plant.
- They prefer well drained soil…so yes, add a layer of good soil to that nasty NC clay we are all plagued with…
- Plant in bunches…you know kind of like daffodils…they look so much better together.
- Dig 2 inch hole, and 3-4 inch apart
- They can handle full sun to partial shade…such an amenable plant.
- I have heard and read they can grow 6-10 inches tall…I think that is about right, so plant them in front of beds so they don’t get lost by taller plants.
Have limited space, rain lilies can even be planted in containers..so for your next container addition..consider the low maintenance rain lily.
Toad Lily (aka Tricyrtis) need a good PR firm–
First the research guys would order a name change.
Then they’d roll out a big ad campaign with lots of bold text and exclamation points–
TOUGH–SHADE LOVING PERENNIAL !! LONG BLOOMING–LATE BLOOMING–EASY TO GROW!!!!
LIGHT UP THOSE DARK PLACES WITH THIS TROPICAL-LOOKING GEM!!!!
Then maybe more gardeners would get to know this great plant. Toad Lily is perfect in front of my two Pittosporum bushes in a dark spot by the porch steps. These plants started blooming in late August and they’re still blooming in October.
All the headlines are true.
Toad Lily has only two draw backs (besides its unbecoming name):
It’s more expensive than lots of other perennials. Must be hard to propagate and slow-growing. Still check out the big selection at Big Bloomers in Sanford. They have the best prices around.
Toad Lily is slow to emerge in the Spring, so make sure you mark the spot so you won’t accidentally dig it up.
Grow it where you would impatients and ferns. Toad Lilies flop at my house so I like having it by the path. It’s a nice way to showcase the blooms, which look more beautiful the closer you get.
Great for southern shade gardens–you should grow Toad Lilies (Tricyrtis)
So on the heels of blog partner Chris’s post on how to water during this fall drought, I thought I would write a more mythical solution to consider. I still see no rain in sight and the drooping leaves and the burnt-looking grass is all quite depressing. So I was inspired to continue the drought dialogue with a little legend and lore.
Yep, you guessed it–the legend and history of rain dancing–a practice since ancient times was executed in order to ask the gods for rain to protect or produce the harvest. I know that back in the day droughts were far more detrimental in terms of livelihood, but I would argue for me and my little garden they sure seem just as epic some days.
So let me share what I have dug up about the whole ritual and perhaps you will be inspired to “cut a rain rug or two.” I know I sure would do a silly jig if I knew it would produce some rain.
So the ritual of the rain dance crosses time and culture. Different cultures call it different things and have different variations, but the basic premise is to perform a ritual dance in order to please the god/s(varies by culture and time) to produce rain and sometimes ward off evil spirits. There are even reports of rain dance rituals as far back as ancient Egypt.
I thought I would describe a little about the Native Americans’ practice since it is a little closer to home and maybe more suitable for us here in NC (or the US in general…for all our readers). So different tribes had different dances to produce the wet stuff….Common rain dances feature dancing in a circle, the pouring of water, and whirling around, acting like the wind. The Hopi Indian rain dance includes holding a live venomous snake in the mouth. The Sioux Indians danced four times around a jug of water, threw themselves to the ground, and then drank from the jug. Rain dances may also be performed by other cultures for reasons such as life, health, and power.
I don’t know about you, but I am not desperate enough to put a snake in my mouth. But I would be willing to dance in a circle and/or drink from a jug of water.
Here is a cool video with some rain dance examples. I like the music…very peaceful.
Here is another fun fact about Rain dances, unlike other rituals in many Native American tribes, women and men both performed them. Many historians credited some Native Americans as being some of the earliest meterologist in our history. They could track certain weather patterns and help predict weather for early settlers. They would even barter the “act” of rain dancing for modern goods.
Surprisingly the rain dance was one of the few ritual dances that survived. Often Native Americans would call all their dances, like the Sun dance, rain dances to fool federal officials into leaving them alone and to their business.
So history seems to look fondly on the rain dance and with the dust bowl in my backyard, I am willing to try anything. How about you? Will you go in your backyard with a symbolic feather and tourquise(symbols of wind and water, respectively) and dance in a circle around a jug if there was the slightest chance it would produce rain?
Let me know…perhaps if we all do it….we will get rain. Let’s do it on a weekday not to ruin our weekend…ok?